The terrible two (years)

The last two years have been an actual nightmare for most of us. I’ve heard so many stories of people who lost everything and other who weren’t affected at all. Francois and I worked predominantly in tourism, so we were buggered. I’m talking ‘living off smart shopper points and e-bucks” buggered. Couldn’t pay our rent. Sold almost all our assets. Depleted all our savings. It was a nightmare.

I remember one afternoon, we were driving home from Stanford and Francois suddenly pulled over the car. He thought he was having a heart attack. I cannot and refuse to drive that road between Hermanus & Cape Town; it’s too terrifying for me and I’ve never done it. I was forced to drive it for the first time, amongst massive trucks and a windy pass while checking in on Francois that he was breathing and alive. He was nauseated and passing out and had chest pains and wasn’t making sense. We rushed to a doctor and put him on an ECG monitor as we thought he’d had a heart attack. My friends, it was a PANIC attack and it was so severe that I literally thought he was dying. The stress on him trying to keep his staff & their families employed was so overwhelming for him. The thought of losing a business that he had spent 10 years building on his own.

Push to that, Francois had a recurring knee injury which eventually led to a knee replacement with a very hectic and painful recovery process and time. I’m talking bedding wet with blood and him being completely debilitated. The limped walk eventually caused a serious back injury and spasms which he had to have two more procedures for. My husband was holding on to his company and holding on to his health and sanity. Add to that that the kids were at home, being homeschooled and I was trying to work full time, take care of the kids and nursing my husband who was disappearing by the day. If he wasn’t anxious, he was sad. When he wasn’t sad, he was angry or frustrated and all the while he was physically in a lot of pain. I’ve never seen anyone in that much pain before. And I was scared.

Watching someone you love go through that is heart wrenching. He had fairly recently lost his mom and when your world comes down, that’s the first person you need and miss the most, isn’t it? And she is gone. Honestly when I think about Francois I just think about how strong he is. And how kind he is. How he coped with so much for so long. And then they banned alcohol like honestly, give us a break!

I can only talk about it all now as I feel like we’re slowly pulling out of it. How we managed to keep food on the table without an income for over a year is ASTONISHING. I feel like I completely shut down and just went into survival mode. We had flights booked from pre-covid for holidays that we couldn’t take. It seems naive & selfish: wanting to go on a holiday amidst a pandemic and your life falling apart, but I so badly wanted to get out of the house. Away from the home schooling and watching my husband suffer and everyone being a bit sad and getting sick and being stressed. I wanted to run away.

There was other extended family things going on that was putting even more pressure and panic on my kids who were already going through so many changes. I felt like a goalie that was just trying to block the opposition for 2 years; trying to protect our family and the slither of stability we had left.

I had been working with my husband’s company and teaching for years, and for the first time since I was 15 years old; I was officially unemployed. I have NEVER not had a job or income. Asking my husband for his bank card was SOUL destroying for me. I couldn’t buy my own face cream, a take away coffee, groceries – nothing.

I remember when the kids first went back to school. In our first teacher-parent Google Meet, the teacher pointed out that a few children didn’t have packed lunches at school. This brought me to actual tears. I asked if we could donate and soon there was a box set up in their class. I would send fruit and healthy snacks that kids could take from in private. Benjamin told me that sometimes he’d go check and the box was empty and we’d send more. Eventually the school asked parents to donate sandwiches that the tuck shop could distribute and we signed up straight away. We sent 2 extra sandwiches and fruit to school every day. I could’t stand the thought of a little child being without food from 7:30am – 2:30pm? None of us could. I couldn’t stand the thought of Ben’s classmates watching my child eat his lunch with hungry tummies.

The break in work gave me a lot of time to reflect on what I wanted to do with my life. I feel like I just kind-of went with the flow of where my career and projects was taking me, but I hadn’t sat down and really mapped out what I wanted. Not since I was in school and thinking about what to study (which was Journalism). I went into healthcare and nursing and floated on to photography and landed in PR and Social Media, but I realised that…

I actually want to be a writer, because

I actually am a writer.

So I started looking at positions in publishing and landed exactly where I want to be right now.

I’m trying to think of all the good things that came out of Covid.

I got my career back on the right track. Francois spent a year perfecting the art of making biltong and he is so good at it. We cut down on expenses. We spent more time together as a family. We learned who our most loyal friends, clients & employees are. We got closer. I made friends with squirrels. Francois’ knee is finally fixed, so it can heal now. We re-structured a few business things that needed to be done. We found out that when pushed to our absolute limits: we don’t break. My family unit is so much stronger than I realised.

I’d love to hear what you overcame in the past two years. You’re welcome to email, DM – whatever.

We’re friends now.

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Motherhood & Mental Health

I was talking about mental health the other day, but in particular; parents’ mental health. More specifically: mothers. I really feel like there isn’t enough transparency around this. I feel like we’ve been ‘excused’ for feeling overwhelmed postpartum and after that, we’re kind of expected to just get on with it.
Having a newborn is so wonderful, but so tough. The feeling of loneliness & exhaustion is extremely overwhelming. Most of my readers have been there. Some of you were there with me. During those days, other mothers would often reassure you that it gets better. It’s true when they say that it gets easier when the youngest turns 4. It got easier for me when my boys could pour their own cereal, their own juice and potty alone – etc. Don’t forget those magical moments when they learned to play alone or were finally entertained by the younger sibling. The best or easiest years might be between the ages of 4 and 6 when they’re just happy to play and watch cartoons and eat whatever you put on toast and have a few hours at daycare.
But then they turn 6 and 7 and start school. Then it gets hard again. You find yourself repeating your entire education all over again, but you have to pay much more attention this time.
I mean let’s just start at the process of actually getting them IN to a good school. Holy shit, I was not prepared. I couldn’t get Noah into the school I wanted for him for grade R. I kept him at his daycare / creche and would not give up. I called the school I wanted every single day. I sent flowers. We moved house. I called again. I had paperwork on standby. Eventually, a spot opened up and Noah got bumped to the top of his list. He had his interview that week and started school the following. Getting your first child in makes it so much easier to get the second in, so I knew that I could exhale for a good 7 years.
I was so wrong.
I had to follow all the class schedules, extra murals, homework, sports and the darn homework book closer than my own life. The amount of times I sent a child with the wrong book or without a swimming costume or relevant musical instrument is astonishing. Lunch boxes that were forgotten in my car. Breakfasts that were eaten on the way to school. Tuck shop days that I forgot or raffle sheets that I lost. All of the mothers in the room are nodding along with me. We’ve all been here and some of us still are.
I joke that my children need their own PA but I’m actually not joking. I AM their PA. I manage their diaries, book their appointments, pay their accounts, arrange their social activities, outings and all their special occasions. I’m in charge of catering & entertainment. Finance, sport & academics. And culture. I had a joint calendar for them but now it’s broken up into individuals. Honestly – Google Calendar will save your life.
Between my kids, they do tennis, cricket, chess, hockey, art club, swimming & piano. I have to select their activities so that they’re on the same day as this really helps for lifts, e.g Noah will have chess on the same day that Ben has cricket so they’re only doing 1 extra mural a day each. Then there are the matches. My friends, do NOT allow your children to enjoy cricket. Tell them that it is extremely terrible and boring and horrible. I say this because cricket matches are like 3 – 4 hours long so y’all better enjoy sitting on a field talking to random parents for that long!
It’s exam time now. So they’re busy with study and exam time tables on top of this. I mean, it’s so tough on the kids as it is, so I need to be hyper organised to make it all easier on them. I need to know who should be studying for what on which day and ensure that it’s happening instead of Minecraft, you know?
Don’t even talk about all the class parties and farewell activities and fun days where I have to know which kid is taking juice and which one is taking chips on which day to which school field and are they wearing civvies and do I need to pay for that on the Karri app or send money and do I even have change in my wallet what is going on.
Add to this that you’re trying to order next year’s stationery and uniforms, nevermind remembering the teacher’s gifts and returning the library books that you obviously can’t find.
Anyway. I keep my cool with them and they think I’m super mom but behind the scenes I am making lists and checking them 7 times and taking extremely wonderful medication for anxiety so that I don’t start drinking wine at 4pm. I mean, sometimes.
I work full time managing a team of writers and intense deadlines. I’m honestly lucky beyond measure that I have the support structure that I have to help with the afternoons. I also co-parent and share days with the boys’ dad, but we’re so intertwined and attend all their big matches, concerts, picnics, events etc together so that’s another big plus. I have incredible men in my life – the big ones and the little ones!
But this is what I’m saying: It’s still hard. When you have a newborn, you feel the loneliness of being the primary caregiver and the exhaustion on your body. When they’re in school, you’re still the primary caregiver when it comes to organising their activities and education. Graeme and Francois will often ask me “who has tennis again today” or “what time is the music concert” regardless of the amount of calendars, print-outs, whatsapp groups and reminders. I’m guessing that this is just how dads are? Or just men – in general? So the loneliness I feel is often the burden of it all. Knowing that if I don’t check that class whatsapp message, then my child might miss the bus to the cricket match because the pick-up gate has changed. You know? I know that you know.
I don’t mind taking the pressure. I love that my boys are oblivious to it all. In their lives, they’re just having fun and playing sport and looking forward to class parties and that’s how it should be.
It does get hectic when you’re running a full-time job, your kids’ schedules and a household. Getting home and realising there’s no bread for tomorrow’s lunch boxes or that the milk is off. Giving your kids hot dogs for the second night in a row because you really don’t have the energy for that spaghetti bolognese. Some nights I swear it’s cereal. And then we wake up tired the next day and do it all over again. Because we love them.
I wouldn’t change any of it for a second. Sometimes I lay awake at night and wonder what I would do if I was like, really super rich. Honestly, I wouldn’t change much. I’d still work my job, I’d still live in the same house. I would still manage their schedules like a hawk. I WOULD (however) get a chef! Imagine a world where you get home and a perfectly balanced, nutritious meal is waiting on the table? And the lunch boxes and work lunches are packed. I mean that would be so incredible, right? I think about that a lot. I lay awake wondering where I can take a little bit of pressure and stress away. I’ve been better at planning and bulk shopping, but those little things still creep in like a child who forgot that the has to dress up for “Egyptian Day” TOMORROW or a forgotten oral or classmate’s birthday. No matter how well you plan, there is always something. And that’s okay.
I just wanted to send a heartfelt shout-out to all the other moms and parents who are doing their very best at this time of year. Hang in there. Pretty soon, we’ll be sipping homemade cocktails in the garden or laying on the couch doing absolutely nothing. I can’t wait.
PS Have you seen that series on Netflix called “Maid”? It’s so damn good! Watch it.
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I lost a very important bag last week

Last week Friday; I left a bag in my Uber driver’s car. I *never* do this, but I was carrying my laptop bag, handbag and takeaway coffee. I also had my favourite white cotton / tote bag with me. It’s my favourite bag & so sentimental. Ben had made a drawing of him & I at his crèche when he was about 6. As a gift, his teacher had the drawing hand-stitched to a cotton tote bag and I’ve treasured it since. I mean, I look amazing.

Note: I was not pregnant at the time but okay thanks Ben. 

The bag was stuffed with things from the office but also contained brand-new pink cat-ear, light-up Bluetooth headphones that my boys got me for my last birthday. They’d even ordered them online for me!
I also treated myself to a pink lunchbox and bought myself a pink lipstick at Dis-Chem that day. Lots of other little things in the bag… all could have been replaced eventually.
I was so hurt about the bag. I contacted the Uber driver immediately but he wasn’t getting back to me and on the app, they have 24 hours to respond. I had asked him to drop me at a Pick n Pay, and then I walked home from there. I realised I didn’t have the bag as I was walking home and my. heart. stopped 🙁
I contacted Pick n Pay, but their safe was locked by then and they didn’t have access to it until the morning to check if my bag was handed in. I tried to reach Ben’s old teacher to have another bag made, but it looks like her little school has closed and I couldn’t find her online. I was so hurt. Ben was sad too.
Later that evening and after so many attempts to get hold of him; the Uber driver called me. I explained the whole situation to him and pleaded about the bag. He promised to message the 3 passengers he collected after my trip and enquire about the bag.
The next morning, I went to the Pick n Pay and spoke to the manager & security department. My bag wasn’t handed in and I begged them to check their security cameras. I wanted to narrow it down to where I had lost the bag. They promised to look at security footage, took my number and promised to call. That was Saturday morning. Today is Tuesday.
I still haven’t heard from them.
Later that afternoon, the Uber driver let me know that HE FOUND MY BAG. It seemed like nothing was touched, taken or tampered with. Not even my freakin apple. I’m really so grateful for the passenger’s honesty as well as the effort and honesty from the driver. I could see on his profile picture that he has a daughter around my kids’ ages, and I’m sure that she would have loved the headphones & make-up, but Morris ensured that I got everything back. He even drove all the way to my office this morning to give it all back to me. I gave him a little reward for this trouble, airtime & petrol etc to fix my OWN screw-up. Here’s what happened with my bag:
The world looks a little bit better today, doesn’t it?
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Dear diary May 2021

I still can’t believe that Covid happened to the world. I can’t believe that my entire family got it. We know people who lost their lives to it, their jobs, their businesses. Everything has changed for most of us, and I still haven’t come to terms with it all. I remember that at this time last year, everyone was watching Tiger King and making banana bread. Cigarettes and alcohol was banned and everything was closed. I missed iced coffee the most. Any kind of takeaway coffee, really. I remember helping the boys with homeschooling, being really down and not even being allowed to walk my dogs. Sometimes we were allowed to walk them between like, 7 and 9am or something. I remember that their favourite park was so crowded that you couldn’t pass people and the dogs could hardly break a trot it was so busy.

At this time, Francois and I were both working mostly in tourism and hospitality. Him with his own business (a tour company) and me as mostly a freelancer. We also own and run a guesthouse in Stanford. I remember how ‘those’ calls and emails started trickling in… “The bookings have gone down” to “There are no bookings at all”. I remember my clients closing their doors – some temporarily, not knowing that they would never open again. I had a few months without any income at all, and then neither did Francois. But we still had to pay our rent (at our Claremont home) and put food on the table. We moved to our Stanford house for a few days which turned to weeks.

When we got Covid, we had to quarantine for 2 weeks so we went to our Stanford home where there’s a bigger garden for the dogs and more space in general. Stanford is a very quiet town. One day, after being stuck indoors for over 2 weeks, I pretty much lost it and grabbed the dogs and walked the few meters down to the river at the end of our street. I know full-well that the river is deserted during the week in the mid-mornings. I knew full-well that we would not be in contact with a single soul. I got out of home for 15 minutes and this lady in the village posted to a whole bunch of people about us breaking quarantine and “putting the whole village at risk”. I was so mad. I was so hurt. It’s been almost a year and I still think about how mean and unnecessary that was.

Then we thought: We just need to get through winter! Francois’ business relies 95% on international clients. He runs these super popular wine tours to Stellenbosch and Franschhoek. Some days, he’d have 5 busses of tourists out every day. They went from that to zero in a matter of days. “The tourists will come back soon, just wait for spring!” I’d tell him. That was 10 months ago. There still aren’t any tourists. Some things hit even harder, like the international news reporting that South Africa had developed a new strain of Covid, AND… with every alcohol ban, the wine industry shut down. I had clients who were restaurants and bars and they closed too. Then the big hotels closed.

Tour busses can seat 13 people, but those got banned at one point too. Then they said that like 70% capacity is ok, so even if you had a tour out – your profit got slashed.

We did a few clever things, though. I got involved and we created a super fun domestic campaign to encourage locals to take trips to the Karoo, Kruger & Matjiesfontein (also in his company’s portfolio). He was on TV and radio and all over websites. Then another alcohol ban came. It was like every time you tried to stand up, someone would take a baseball bat and hit you on your shins.

Things have been up and down. They go from better to worse every other week, but we’re holding on as tight as we can. We made a few clever moves (well, Francois did!) that really helped. We rented out our Stanford house on a long-term lease as nobody was traveling to guesthouses at that point. We saved a lot of money because we weren’t going out, eating out of traveling anymore.

Probably my core focus was protecting the boys from feeling any of it. I didn’t want them to know when we were stressed, or struggling. I didn’t want them to panic or worry or feel unstable in any way. I mean, their entire lives had changed, their routine was non-existent, they were trapped at home and seriously missing school and their friends. Keeping a straight face when things get tough is exactly what we did. Keep your chin up, put your shoulders back – and carry on!

Things seem to be changing again. We’re in a “good week” but you never know what’s waiting around the bend.

Another clever hack of ours, is that we’re part of two different “home exchange” type of groups. If you own a lodge / guesthouse / hotel you can be part of this group. It works on a point system, so you can use your points to stay somewhere as long as people can also use their points to stay at your place, etc. We had loads of people use their points at our guesthouse over the years, so we had accumulated a lot  of points;  which is how we managed our holiday to Mozambique. We also saved so much by flying instead of driving and thank goodness, because the land borders closed the week before our trip. We’re currently using our points here and there when we want to stretch our legs and try escape some of the stress we have to deal with sometimes.

Oh man, another awesome hack was that Francois’ business gives bank cards to the tour guides to fill up with petrol. For years! He’d earned so many eBucks (like points you can use at certain partners) that we used them on groceries for like 2 months. I could use my medical aid savings for basic medicines that we needed. Pick n Pay Smart Shopper points came in handy too. We also had this brand-spanking-new massive kennel that we’d bought for the dogs. They hated it and never set their paws in it, so we gave it back to the pet shop in exchange for store credit. I could get enough dog food for three dogs for two months out of that! It’s amazing how resourceful you can be when you really need to, and know how to.

Oh MAN, another thing we did! Haha. It was so funny. Francois had a whole storeroom full of ‘grape juice’ that was left over from a project, and that we couldn’t sell. Cases and cases of the stuff. During the first alcohol ban, we sold like, all of it. We made a pretty penny, too! There was this one couple who were in the process of emigrating. They gave us like, this really cool (brand new) printer in exchange for a box of it. I was thrilled as the boys really needed one for home-schooling. Some people traded us grape juice for other kinds of juices, like potato juice – which is my preferred one. We felt like the mafia! Within a week, that storeroom was empty.

We’ve learned so many lessons this past year. We found areas where we used to over-spend, hacks we weren’t using and tricks we didn’t know about. I made it a game with the boys when we went grocery shopping. I’d be like “If we buy this 150g product for R45 does it work out cheaper if we buy the 500g one for R87” and things like that. We’d make it this fun math game and they’d get so proud of their equations and how they were really ‘sticking it’ to the corporates who were trying to trick us into spending more money.

Not that Francois and I were ever flashy or spent a lot of money. We share a car that’s paid in full. We rent a tiny little house in the suburbs and don’t buy designer things or expensive clothes. We pretty much never eat out. We only ever really spent extra money on travel, because that was a priority for both of us. Why buy a R850 dress when that could be a train ticket from Rome to Venice? I guess that’s how we used to see things.

Now it’s a year later, and we’re about to go into winter again. We’re repeating all our re-assuring words to one another: “Just a few more months” and “This is almost over” followed by “We just have to make it through winter.”

I know that things have been hard on everyone and some people have lost everything including their lives or loved ones. I know this. I can only be grateful for what we’ve managed to hold on to and the lessons we’ve learned. Sometimes I just don’t know how much longer we can hold on for.

Amongst all of this, Francois’ old knee injury started acting up again. When your knee gives in, you walk a bit skew with a bit of a limp, so his lower back went into excruciating pain. I had never seen a grown man cry out and scream in pain like that. His Orthopaedic surgeon scheduled another knee op, which didn’t help. Eventually they booked him in for a knee replacement (after nothing else worked). When he went in for that, they found a big infection, so they closed him up and sent him home instead.

Francois has been in pain and on crutches for as long as I can remember at this point. As soon as he recovered from the one surgery, he was being booked in for the next. Of course I didn’t mind looking after him, but this meant that I was spending more time doing things on my own and had to run everything, look after the dogs, kids and house on my own. Some days, I didn’t make my deadlines at work and it was putting strain on my income.

In recovery (after his attempted knee replacement), his back got so bad that he could no longer make it to the bathroom. Without mobility, his neck started going into spasms and he could no longer lift his head to swallow pain tablets. When I say that my husband was in pain; he was in more pain than I’ve ever seen anyone in. I threatened getting an ambulance, taking him to hospital – anything to make him feel better. Francois hates a fuss and he’s quite stubborn. One morning I’d had enough of watching him suffer and called his surgeon. The doctor was like, omg he needs to get to hospital… but you can only take him in 4 days time when some really brilliant back doctor is on call. They made all the arrangements, Francois powered through and he was admitted to hospital for permanent care. They took X-rays of his back, booked him into theatre and injected cortisone directly into the inflammation. He spent a few more days in hospital. I think he was there for a week?

When he got home, his recovery continued and about a week later, he was booked in for his full knee replacement. I’m not going to lie, I was SO EXCITED for him to finally have the operation, knowing just how much pain he’d been in for so long. It’s now been about 3 weeks since his recovery and his mobility is much better. Some days he only uses one crutch and sometimes can walk around a bit and do basic things for himself like make a cup of tea. Last night, he even cooked dinner and I must admit it was so nice to get a tiny bit of help for one night and to see him be able to do a task again. While he was trying to keep his business open, he was also dealing with excruciating pain and recovering from major surgeries. That husband of mine is honestly impenetrable and so much stronger than I thought he was.

Probably the biggest factor is that we’re getting a lot less sleep. Francois is obviously very restless and uncomfortable at night. He struggles to sleep from the pain. I get up and try help him, or make him some tea or get his meds for him. Some nights he sneaks out and sits in the living room or kitchen from like 3am – 6am. Then I’m up at 6:30 to sort the boys out and do the morning run, which wakes him up again. Luckily the boys’ schedules and routine is exactly the same and they’re quite oblivious to anything but fishing, Minecraft, Fortnite and surfing. There’s been a lot more screen time around here lately and I couldn’t give a shit, honestly.

Today is a good day. There’s been some good news here and there. Two days ago I was jumping up and down from joy. Yesterday I burst out crying in a parking lot with my eldest in the car. Today, I’ve taken the day off. I mean I still have to do the basics but Francois is out at doctor and business appointments. The kids are at school. I got back into bed at 10am and decided to write a bit. To do something for myself.

It hasn’t been all bad. Francois and I are closer than ever. The boys are absolutely thriving at school. They have sports again and have joined a few clubs. They have play dates and sleepovers with their best friends again. I got super into gardening but then my asshole rabbits ate all my flowers.

I have a few squirrels now. I started feeding a squirrel that I saw in our garden. I called him Chip. Then he brought his friend, who I named Chappie. Then they brought two smaller squirrels with them, so now I have this little squirrel family that I’ve been feeding for about 3 weeks. I always take their peanuts to the edge of the garden and place them on top of a shelf. This is usually at about 8:30am when I’m home from dropping the boys and walking the dogs. This morning, I went to re-fill their bowl and Chip and Chappie came jumping down from the tree! They were a bit hesitant, but then they came RIGHT UP to me and nibbled their peanuts just above my eye-level, like 30cm from my face. I didn’t want to scare them, so I just stood completely still and watched them learn to trust me. These wild squirrels and me: their Peanut Lady. I don’t know why it made me so happy, but it felt really good. I feed them every morning, then I sit at our garden table, drink my tea and watch them have their breakfast. They’re really cool. You’d like them.

I have a bit of other updates and news to share, but I don’t feel like talking anymore. I think I’m going to make another cup of tea and maybe have a long bath, put on some nice clothes and maybe even a bit of makeup. Francois is so used to seeing me in sweats, tights and pyjamas. Anyway, I really think that today is going to be a good day. I hope so.

Thanks for listening x

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2021 Board

I’ve been really good at planning and organising things lately, so I wanted to put this ‘mood board’ together for everything that I want to transpire this year! My MAIN THEME is Italy. Francois bought us tickets to Italy for Christmas and it’s all I want! But with Covid and everything else going on, I’m not sure if we’re going to make it in June / July which is when our tickets are booked and paid for. Anyway, these are all the things that I have my eye on for this year.

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My ultimate skincare wish – list

These are all my absolute favourite skincare products that I have my eye on for my face’s future! Some of them are SUPER expensive and I can almost never afford them, but I just wanted to put this ‘online’ so I can reference it real quick when I can afford them!

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We got Covid and it sucked.

This year has been a nightmare for most of us, but especially over here at The Rabbit Haus. My husband, Francois works in tourism and owns a well established tour company called Wine Flies Tours. It relies mostly (and I mean 95%) on international tourists. In season, he has 5 or more tour busses out into the winelands every day. Above this, they also do private tours, Kruger Safaris and helicopter tours. When we hit lockdown, his business closed completely. He didn’t earn an income for almost 6 months and had a whole team of staff and tour guides to try support. I do marketing and PR for mostly the hospitality industry and I also write for a few other companies – mostly content and blog posts. I lost 80% of my clients during lockdown and the clients I did have, decreased their services to a minimum. The schools closed. The kids were adapting to home schooling and everything changed in what felt like seconds.

My dad (who I am extremely close to) let me know that he was leaving the country. For good. He lived in KZN, in my same childhood home. I quickly bought flights for him to come and say goodbye to us in Cape Town. I hadn’t seen my dad in over a year and all I wanted was a last hug, dinner, cup of tea and for him to see his only grandchildren before he left South Africa. A few days before his arrival, he caught wind that the airports were going to close and they had to move their UK flights forward. Immediately. I got a frantic voice note and my dad got on a plane to the United Kingdom that same day. I didn’t get to say goodbye. Out of all the ways that Covid affected me personally, that remains the worst.

Fast forward a few months and Francois and I completely restructured our businesses. I stepped in as the Marketing Manager of Wine Flies Tours, I started teaching again and I put my writing career in children’s books on hold. We launched an extensive PR campaign for local travel and got great coverage on television, radio and online media. Francois got bored and started making biltong fun fun, which quickly turned into a little business and he is now stocked at quite a few places around Cape Town. I picked up a few new additional clients, the kids were finding their groove at school and getting ready for their final exams. We booked a holiday to Mozambique  and JUST as everything seemed to be going better… We all got Covid.

Monday, 23 November

Francois’ birthday was on Monday, 23 November. He woke up saying that he felt tired and that his body was sore, but we put it off to him being very tired. It’s the end of the year, we had been on holiday in Stanford for our wedding anniversary and had many late nights and far too many drinks. I genuinely thought he just had a 2-day hangover (which you know, is a thing). We even stopped to visit his dad in the morning (a diabetic) and I had arranged a little surprise party for him: A full day in the winelands with some of his best friends. We spent that Monday with at least 20 of our friends – eating, drinking and travelling together until at least 10pm that night. We had no idea. We did take Francois’ temperature on Monday morning just to be sure, and it was completely normal. Also – the tour bus we were in was seated according to Covid regulations, eg the bus can normally take 13 passengers, but we were at capacity of 9 passengers according to Covid regulations. The bus had also been fogged, sterilized and all passengers were checked for temperatures, hands sanitized etc. This is important later.

Tuesday, 24 November

On Tuesday morning, the kids came back home from a week with their dad. Noah was at school for an exam and Ben was just hanging at home with us. Francois felt bad, but still not like – “flu bad”. He said he felt like his body was really sore and he was feeling chills like hot and cold vibes. Not like a fever. He had no cough, no sore throat. Not even a sneeze. No temperature. I on the other hand started coughing a dry cough and also started feeling the chills. The worst was definitely the lethargy. I felt like even walking to the bathroom was impossible, but I had the kids and everything else to take care of.

Wednesday, 25 November

Our nanny came into work. Ben started getting cold symptoms so I kept him home from school just in case. I still honestly thought that we were just tired and probably just had a hangover from Francois’ all-day party on Monday. We had scares before. I have gotten sick with colds this year and so has Ben. We had been for Covid tests earlier this year which were negative. Not wanting to take a chance, Francois went for a test and by now we were letting the friends from Monday’s party know that three of us were sick. I got hit with the worst case of lethargy I had ever felt and I am counting having raised 2 newborns. I got into bed that afternoon and could not move. Francois and I were just like, critically exhausted. My cough was getting a bit worse but not bad – just the odd wet cough. No other symptoms except a really sore body and absolute exhaustion. Francois and I dragged ourselves to Lancet for his test. I stocked up on all the flu meds I always use: Corenza C, Myprodol, Vitamin C and Zinc for us. For the kids, I got Corenza C paediatric syrup and Stilpane syrup. If you’re a parent, you may know that Stilpane knocks a kid out like a sleeping pill, and I knew that Ben needed to sleep to help his body heal. My son Ben is asthmatic and is on chronic medication. He has been hospitalised a handful of times, making him high risk for Covid. Things were starting to get real very quickly at this point. I pulled the kids from school and told our nanny not to come in anymore. I still didn’t think that we had it, but I was just being safe.

Thursday, 26 November

I woke up feeling like I could never get out of bed again in my life. I almost wet the bed because walking the 2 meters to our en-suite bathroom seemed impossible. Francois was literally just groaning next to me. I checked on the kids, gave them more meds and got straight back into bed. At this point, I told Francois “This isn’t flu. Something is wrong.” The only thing that really set up alarm bells was the total exhaustion and inability to move, stand or walk. Francois and I felt really, really dizzy and spaced out. I slept in for a bit and got out of bed at lunch time. I still had to look after the kids, make sure they were studying, eating and sorting out their odd squabbles. I had a few urgent work matters and had to clean the house and still walk and take care of the dogs, rabbits and our cat. We survived on take-aways and lets just say that my kids ate a LOT of cereal.

Later that afternoon, Francois got the text. He was positive. By now my denial had disappeared and I went into full-on panic mode. We had to contact everyone we saw that Monday. We saw his dad who is high risk. All our closest friends. Our nanny had been in. The kids had been at school. I felt this feeling of total guilt and almost like, grief? I had to contact the school, pull the boys out of exams. At the same time it hit me that Ben is extremely high risk. The kid has ended up in hospital with a cold before. Asthma attacks are scary. We put ourselves in total lockdown. Obviously.

Friday, 27 November 

All I could think about was monitoring Ben. The doctors wouldn’t see him and I was too scared to take him for a Covid test. It was very clear that we all had it. My other son, Noah absolutely NEVER gets sick. He had a headache for like 2 hours that week and that was it. Also, note that I started dosing Noah with all the same meds as soon as Ben got sick, so I think that definitely helped. We got a peak-flow meter (From Wynberg Pharmacy) which is a device that measures your lung capacity. I was advised to get Ben to blow into the device every 2 hours to see if his numbers were decreasing. I also got his emergency asthma meds (a strong cortisone called Aspelone) to boost his lungs above and beyond his regular meds. By the time I noticed a decline, I called our doctor who referred me to a Paediatrician who admitted Ben straight to the Paediatric Ward at our nearest hospital. By now, I was slowly getting my energy back but I was probably just running on adrenaline. We had run out of food at home and Francois was still very sick. He definitely got it the worst out of all of us. I had to leave Francois and Noah at home alone and stay over with Ben in isolation at the hospital.

They tested me and Ben straight away. The test itself is really sucky. We got swabbed around our tonsils which makes you want to hurl. I would much have preferred a blood test, to be honest. It seems like a stupid thing to even mention, but a lot of people ask what the test is like.

Ben was put on a nebuliser. This was Friday. Ben’s 10th birthday was on the upcoming Sunday and it looked like he was going to spend it in hospital.

The nurses couldn’t really come into our room because they had to put on like a dozen garments to even enter our ward. This meant that most of his medication was dropped at a table outside our room, which I would administer to Ben. I had to run his nebs and turn them off. I slept on a chair next to his bed and he struggled to sleep. His lung capacity wasn’t coming back up fast enough and would just drop every 2 hours again.

Saturday 28 November

If you’ve ever been in hospital with your kid, then you know that they wake you up at 5:30am. I was feeling super sick at this point and in my rush, hadn’t packed my own meds, toothbrush or even a change of clothes for myself. Obviously Ben had everything he needed because this is just how parents operate, right? The doctor came to check on Ben and didn’t want to discharge him as she felt that we would just come back again later. Knowing that it was Ben’s birthday the following day, she let us leave on condition that we purchase our own Nebulizer for at home, which we did. We ordered some groceries online and all of us literally just slept for what felt like a hundred years.

Sunday 29 November

Ben woke up feeling so much better. I actually felt 80% fine and Francois too. We had a cute little drive-by party and all the family dropped off cakes and presents for Ben. He really got spoiled rotten and was off his nebs by Sunday evening.

The following week…

We had another week of isolation to get through and were all feeling the cabin fever really badly. Luckily, we have a house in Stanford to we packed the family in the car to go isolate there. Our Stanford house has a big, beautiful garden so at least the kids and dogs would have more space to play and be active. We left on Monday and I asked my nanny to go to the house on Wednesday / Thursday to check on the cat and bunnies. She is a single lady living with another family, so she often stays over when we travel. Our Stanford house is my sanctuary.

On Wednesday our nanny told us that she was feeling sick. On Thursday her chest was severely tight. By Thursday evening she was taken to hospital for medication and a Covid test. I felt so helpless being all the way in Stanford, so I ordered groceries online for her to be delivered to the house. She had medicine and everything else she needed. By Friday she had tested positive. This meant that she had to stay at our house and was officially in quarantine. This also meant… that we could not go home. Apparently you can get Covid twice and if we went home and lived with her, we would need to go right back into isolation.

We would have just stayed in Stanford, but I had a meeting in Cape Town on Tuesday and the boys were also seriously missing their dad who they hadn’t seen in two weeks. We ended our quarantine, drove back to Cape Town, gave the kids to Graeme and then Francois and I had to check into a hotel. We stayed on Long Street for a week before we could come home on Friday afternoon.

Only 1 of our friends also tested positive for Covid. One who was at Francois’ birthday party that first Monday. Out of the other 20+ people we were with that day, everyone else was luckily fine.

Our nanny went home yesterday and she is feeling absolutely fine now. We are all 100% recovered. We did miss our holiday to Mozambique (you need a negative Covid test to get through the border) and the boys missed their final exams, class picnics and everything else. It’s the 12th of December and I haven’t even put up the damn Christmas Tree. We’re still tired. I spent all of today in bed, watching Greys Anatomy re-runs. I still feel exhausted and like I could just fall asleep anywhere, at any time. And (because I hate myself) I got on the scale this afternoon. Three weeks of no exercise and trying to “eat for energy” has really, really taken it’s toll on my body. I must have gained about 7kg but even worse is that I just feel horrible. Tired, gross, unhealthy and dehydrated. I feel like I need to run 10km and eat 10 salads and drink 20l of water to just feel normal again and I will. As soon as I can get out of bed again.

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Our perfect honeymoon

I haven’t even written about our wedding, and here I am writing about our honeymoon. I think I’m saving that post for our 1-year anniversary which is closer than I even realised. I lost my phone a few weeks ago, and with it a whole bunch of images. It’s sort of terrified me about backing up photos, memories and thoughts in other places other than my phone and external hard drives. I didn’t actually LOSE my phone. Someone followed me (and my kids) through a shop and stole it out of a bag in my trolley but hey. It’s gone.

I’ve always loved the feeling of journaling because it makes all your feelings and memories that much more tangible. As I sit here, I’m worried that I won’t remember all the beautiful and perfect little details of our honeymoon and it was only a few months ago? Like literally 2 or 3 months ago… and it’s already faded.

So anyway, Francois and I went to Italy together when we were semi-serious boyfriend-and-girlfriend. I remember that we had a big fight in Florence and I sulked for hoooooours, which is why I will absolutely never see the Arno river again. Traveling as husband and wife is sooooo much more fun (and even more romantic). For this Italian trip, we headed straight for our favourites: Sorrento and the Amalfi Coast. I mean, we love Venice but we had been there twice before. I remember my first night in Venice, I ran to our hotel room to charge my phone and woke up the next day. I was so tired. Francois was furious haha. I’d always traveled alone before that trip, so it was really weird for me to do things WITH someone, but now I love it. I love experiencing destinations through him and his enjoyment, too. My favourite is after a long day of sights, we would pour a drink, watch the sunset and go through our photos of the day. That daily recap was the best!

So anyway, if you’re thinking about seeing Italy, then definitely see Venice. If you want to see the Amalfi Coast (Positano etc) then 100% stay in Sorrento and take ferries everywhere. Avoid Capri unless you’re a hardcore Camps Bay / Cafe Caprice type fan in which case you’ll love it. We hated it. Enjoy spending (literally, honestly) R350.00 on a drink for a mediocre view. I don’t want this post to be too “advicey” but you can go to Italy in the HEIGHT of season and you won’t be crowded in Sorrento or Atrani which are by far the most beautiful in Italy. If you’ve never been: go to Venice, Sorrento, Positano and Atrani in that order. You can land in Venice, take a train /ferry/road trip to Naples, then Sorrento, then a day trip to Positano, then a ferry to Amalfi and then Atrani is literally walking distance from there. T R U S T  M E. If you’re super into art or history, then throw Rome in there. The Sistine Chapel and Colosseum are literally… colossal. I found Florence to be very hipster and undeservedly overcrowded, but hey. Maybe it was that fight. It’s *extremely* Cape Town.

Anyway, we headed straight to Sorrento for our honeymoon and checked in at the sweetest little (weirdly affordable) private, penthouse apartment.

Wait, sorry – backtrack.

We flew out to Italy and our plane stopped in Zambia to refuel or something. And then the plane wouldn’t start again. Hilariously, they did the whole “put it off, put it back on again” thing while we were grounded which was alarming but still didn’t work. We disembarked after a very short flight from Cape Town. This sucked for various reasons, but mostly because of Francois and I’s “travel tradition”. We like to hang at a bar and get pretty decently drunk before a night flight because 1. fun! and 2. you sleep better. This has led to circumstantial issues in the past, like when we flew from Venice to Cape Town and had an *extremely* boozy “goodbye Italy” lunch. That led to us having to disembark a ferry from Venice to the airport because they wouldn’t let Francois urinate off the side of the boat. Look, when you need to go – you need to go. We had to make a stop, then (obviously) had more drinks there, VERY nearly missed our flight and led to F getting so ‘joyous’ on the plane that he couldn’t understand why the air hostess (he literally referred to her as a waitress) wouldn’t serve him gin and tonics while we were still grounded. He then got all the passengers around us to join his party, which they obviously did.

Moving on.

We had such a fun time before our Cape Town -> Italy flight that we were fully prepared to pass out right after dinner, which we did. Very rudely, we were woken up about 2 hours later, bleary – boozey eyed and then had to face the bright lights of the Zambia airport. Even worse? Small airports’ coffee shops, restaurants and shops close at like, 6? There wasn’t a bottled water or cup of coffee in sight, so we just sat on the airport floor for like 3 hours while the airline tried to figure out where to put us all. It really, really, really sucked.

Positive side: They ended up putting us into a hotel, which I realised was literally RIGHT next to Victoria Falls and on the Zambezi’s doorstep / river bed? so I was in my element! I’ve always wanted to see both the abovementioned. We ended up spending 2 more (fully paid and fed) nights in Zambia while they booked new flights and honestly, we were fine. We made friends with other stranded passengers, did a magical Zambezi sunset cruise, went into Zimbabwe, saw Vic Falls, went to the Royal Livingstone and even the Vic Falls Hotel. We had so. much. fun. It was a very welcome and unexpected honeymoon surprise.

When we finally got to Sorrento we were buggered, elated and relieved. It was the first time that we booked a self-catering house and it was the BEST. We shopped at the local grocer and made our own dishes from Italian tomatoes, truffle oil, buttery pasta and parmesan. The best part? On our first night as Casa Correale, our stupid umbrella wouldn’t open (it was HOT) and I couldn’t figure out the airconditioning. I knocked on a neighbour’s door for ‘damsel in distress’ assistance and met our downstairs neighbour, Gerardo. He is a fantastic old man (late 80s) who lives alone in his g o r g e o u s apartment. It ended up that he owns our flat and he assisted us with everything we needed. We loved him so much that he invited us to see his apartment the next day (I die) and we invited him for drinks at our place, which ended up as a sing-along at HIS place (he used to be in a jazz band) and thus began a lifelong friendship between us. We still stay in touch with him with regular phone calls, voice notes and an open invitation for us to stay in that glorious penthouse apartment again, as his guests. We’re already planning our next trip! We love that man deeply and want to get a long-stay visa so we can pop over to him if he ever needs us.

Anyway, Sorrento is magical and if I can recommend ONE restaurant it would be what Gerardo recommended to us: The Five Sisters. You have never in your life had such authentic Italian food, which such a good view and the absolute worst service (depending on which sister you get). The 5 Di Leva Sisters restaurant is situated at Marina Grande which also happens to be the BEST spot in Sorrento! Honestly, I get teary just thinking about it as it was by far my favourite day in Italy, ever. The restaurant has been visited by the likes of Jamie Oliver and Sophia Loren, and it’s run by 5 obnoxious, charming, irritable, gorgeous and rude Italian mamas. They aren’t tourist-friendly. Nobody tries to upsell you. They aren’t interested in English. It’s kind of “come eat or go home, we don’t really care” attitude and it’s just so authentic and awful and wonderful all at the same time. Please go. Ignore the thousands of Trip Advisor reviews from the snooty English and just go. It’s definitely my most memorable dining experience of all time and the food is phenomenally authentic. We ended up having limoncellos with the sisters and they looooved Francois / Franco (everyone in Italy calls him Franco or Francesco)

From Sorrento, we did our usual (frightful, anxiety-clad) bus trip to Positano as a day trip. A bit later in our trip, we headed to Amalfi and then walked up the hill to Atrani which is (my God) the most beautiful, picturesque place I’ve ever seen. In my life. Ever. Atrani is tiny and consists of exactly what you see in the photos: One beach, one square. Maybe 5 restaurants and like 800 people. That’s it. And it’s magic. On our next trip to Italy, I’m heading straight for Sorrento and Atrani, without a doubt.

After Atrani, we headed to Rome. I was surprised at how much I loved this city. The Vatican City was mind-blowingly beautiful, but the queues are by far the worst I’ve seen in my life. Worse than the Louvre. Literally times it by a hundred. If you plan on going, please just pay the jump-the-line fee because nobody has time to stand in the sweltering heat for 2 – 3 hours. The Sistine Chapel is B R E A T H T A K I N G. I will always be extremely and wholeheartedly grateful that I got to see it in person. Everyone should. We didn’t go inside the Colosseum because it felt weirdly touristy, but just walking around it is magical. We also did a red bus tour of the city which really helps you gather your bearings. The Trevi Fountain is an actual joke in terms of tourists. But… having sundowners on a rooftop bar, overlooking the Colosseum is something that I will treasure foractualever.

Italy is insanely romantic. I have never perved on my gorgeous husband more. Seeing him all tanned and muscular, sporting vests and breaking a sweat in the heat while sipping on Spritz was… rewarding. You will feast on pizza, pasta, seafood, limoncello and spritz. You will swim in warm oceans, tan, love, feast and inhale the entire atmosphere of the beaches lined with lemon groves and sunshine. I could not have asked for a better honeymoon (or husband) and I can’t wait to do it all over again.

<side note> I gained somewhere around 7 – 10kg in Italy over two weeks. Yes, it’s possible. And it’s 100% worth it. You cannot go to Italy and not eat pizza, pasta and spritz every damn day. Three times a day. The food is carb-loaded, the drinks are sugary and it doesn’t matter how much you walk… you’re going to ROLL out of there happier, chubbier and tanned. Enjoy every living second! I just started losing all that extra weight and now we’re off to Paris and Portugal this week. I can’t wait to get fat and happy all over again! Right now, I’m still in the honeymoon phase of our marriage and I suspect I always will be.

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Welcome to Bunny-Land.

You know what this blog is like to me? A friend. A friend that I’m really bad at keeping in touch with and never get around to seeing, but when we catch up again then it’s like nothing ever changed. I miss writing. I mean, I write for a living – but I miss writing here. I write for clients, other blogs and websites and I recently finished my first children’s book called The Silly Adventures of Buttons and Honey. I’m officially an author, and it blows my mind.

I have to tell you about the book first, though. About 5 or 6 years ago I started telling my kids these sweet little bedtime stories. You know when your kids are in bed and you’ve re-read all their books a hundred times? And you don’t even want to switch the lights on to find a reading option because, my God, that might wake them up all over again? I wish I knew the exact date or year that I made these characters up, because it’s literally their birthday and I just have no idea.

I created these characters called Buttons and Honey. They’re brother and sister bunnies who live in Bunny-Land, under a big apple tree. When I think about the sh*t that I made up I find it incredibly hard to believe that I’ve never taken drugs. I really haven’t. When you read the books one day you might suspect this, but seriously… I’m clean, you guys.

Buttons and Honey basically push boundaries. Instead of parents restricting you to one glass of Nesquick, these bunnies’ parents filled an entire swimming pool with Nesquick. And sweets. So it’s not “Alice in Wonderland” or anything like that. It’s more… Richard Scarry meets Beatrix Potter and Julia Donaldson. I have made up dozens of Buttons and Honey stories over the years.

A few months ago, I finally got the courage to actually write them down. I was laying in bed really late at night and I kept telling myself that I need to get around to it… to these books that I want to write. I guilted myself and then I had a super hard conversation with myself. The inner guilt-trip switched to motivation and I thought you know what? I’m just going to get out of bed RIGHT NOW and do it. The whole house was asleep and I was so tired, but I sat writing until the early hours (at least 2 or 3am or later) until I had all three of my favourite books penned.

Over the following couple of weeks, I’d gathered Theodore Key (the most incredible illustrator) and I spent so many wintery afternoons sitting in the sunroom at our Stanford house, putting the layout together. I can’t draw (at all) but I managed to shape the book into a 32-page layout, and off Theo went to bring Bunny-Land to life. There have been so. many. tears. I cried, cherished and celebrated every single step.

I got the most phenomenal literary agent (Catrina) and we signed contracts and put some legal things together. My designer, Colin put it all together and on my 35th birthday – I printed the very first Buttons and Honey book. Having that (and a bottle of Moët) in my hands was definitely one of the proudest moments of my life.

Writing a children’s Picture Book is much, much harder than I imagined it. Honestly, it’s so difficult, time-consuming, meticulous and expensive (if you’re paying for artwork). You don’t need to submit illustrations for picture book consideration (to publishers) but I wanted to do it for myself and for my kids. I was so proud to show them that mommy finally did it. I definitely think that I’ll stick to picture books, as YA (young adult) is so saturated and daunting for me. I think I’d rather leap to an autobiography one day, as I write very easily in this narrative.

What I HAVE discovered is an incredible, supportive, informative, encouraging, friendly and kind community of writers on twitter. Honestly, I have learned more about the world of publishing by following a few key authors, agents, illustrators, editors and publishers than I could have imagined. I’ve also reached out to local authors for support and the amount of gracious love and kindness that I’ve received has surpassed all the expectations I didn’t even have.

I’ve also learned that I need to keep blogging. I need to keep this narrative and my own inner protagonist going so that my craft stays fresh. I need to keep writing, communicating and surrendering my thoughts to typeface. I’ve realised that I’ve always lived in Bunny-Land and every step I’ve taken in my writing career (from poetry and anthologies of verse to gossip mags. From parenting blogs to news writing, press releases, social media content and lifestyle communication) has shaped and nudged my talents into various directions that all either hit the end of the stream of made me run out of steam. I either hit a brick wall or got gloriously bored. But not this. This is different, and I can feel it in every stroke of the keys, in every new rhyme, every furious scribble and I can see it in every illustration.

To quote my favourite lyric in one of my favourite musicals (The Greatest Showman): This is me.

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My Bonnie lies over the ocean

WE GOT ANOTHER DOG. Her name is Bonnie and she’s the cutest, sweetest little ball of fluff that you’ve ever seen. If you’re a Border Collie fan, then I’d definitely advise you to find a pup from an actual farm. I don’t know what it is, but those working dogs have such good breeding. Bonnie is from a dairy farm near Riebeek Wes. It took us forever to drive out into the farmlands to fetch her! I got her as a gift for Francois as he’s NEVER had his own, own dog and I think there’s something beautiful in having a companion like that. Francois loves bodyboarding and is at the beach every second day, so Bonnie (and Jack) are going to get loads of time outside! Dogs are also great because they keep you active. I don’t know what I would do without Jack, he’s the actual best. Anyway, Bonnie…

She is super cute but she is such. hard. work. right now! She’s really nervous in cars and makes a poo (!!!!) every time I put her in there. Francois has the weakest stomach I’ve ever ‘seen’ so I’m doing ALL the potty training and pick-ups myself. If he even smells a dog poo, his eyes water and he gags and it takes him so long to recover that I just do it all because really… it’s not that dramatic. Maybe motherhood toughened me up in that department. Does anyone have any tips on getting a puppy used to a car? Do I just google “How to make your dog stop pooing in your car?” This morning, she pood THREE TIMES on my BACK SEAT. She was sitting between the kids and made a pretty lady turd right between the boys. Then we had a nice long, peaceful drive on the highway with Bonnie crying, the kids screaming and me trying to chuck towels on the mess from the front seat while trying to navigate lane changes. Get a puppy guys, it’s great. Two towels, three poos and one vomit later, I got home. What is up with this dog? Do they get nervous tummies? Is it safer to just stop feeding her altogether? Her other favourite thing is to crawl under my seat while I’m going 100 on the highway and then sticks her head out at my feet pedals, which is GREAT for my anxiety and all of your general safety. (I’ve learned to stuff things under my chair so she can’t get in there!)

Potty training is just. not. happening. I wake up to a screaming family every morning because Bonnie really enjoys pooing in the bathrooms and in the passage that separates our bedrooms. She then especially enjoys stepping IN HER OWN (warm, squishy) poo, followed by running around the house and sometimes even rolls in it. I generally wake up to Francois gagging down the passage and the kids shrieking as they all (like intelligent, observant humans) keep stepping IN IT. It has been several weeks of this and my children (Francois included) have not learned to look down before entering the passage. We even bought those special Puppy Training Mats that look like big linen savers. They’re expensive and absorbent, designed and manufactured to encourage the puppy to use them. Something about a special scent added that attracts the puppy and provokes natural instincts and encourages return behavior. WELL.

Bonnie’s favourite this is to take these special and expensive mats and chew them to absolute shreds. Even the ones that I’ve frantically tossed on her puddles to absorb the liquids. I actually think that she prefers those, to be honest. Right now, this house is a mess of soggy newspaper, shredded cotton and half-chewed rolls of toilet paper. We’ve bought special cleaning products, air fresheners (with timers) and even specific sprays from the pet shop to break down bacteria and disguise odours. Every time Bonnie ‘goes’ inside, I have to cover it up like a freakin crime scene and I am tired. It’s really hard work to make it look like we’re a semi-hygienic, decent family at the moment.

So anyway, we got a dog. She’s cute and disgusting and you’d totally love her. This morning I caught her chewing on stale turds from the cat’s litterbox, wagging her tail at me in delight. Please will someone come and fetch her. Send us love, light… and a time machine. Welcome to our home, Bonnie Banana xxx

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